This is the beginning of a series where we acknowledge the birthdays of some of Carlton's past players. Feel free to use the comments section to provide your memories of each player. Many happy returns to everyone featured here.
Dean Rice was picked up by the Blues with Pick 19 of the 1994 Pre-Season Draft. Originally from St Kilda, Rice hurt his knee in 1992 and was let go by the Saints, despite playing 116 games, mainly on the wing. Prior to the Saints, he played with the Geelong U/19's and Reserves, this was the club that his uncle Colin Rice played with in the 1963 Premiership. He played his junior footy with Essex Heights which was Richmond FC's fourths, in his last year of high school he played with Longwood in the Benalla District League with his brothers who used to travel up there each weekend.
The blonde haired right footer was picked up the Blues despite the injury and set about resurrecting his career in the Navy Blue. And then, versus the Tigers in Round 8, 1994, Rice was picked for his first game. It was a promising start - playing from the forward pocket, Rice was leading hard and fast up ground and providing another option in the forward line. But then, and I can remember how sick I felt, let alone "Ricey", Rice hurt his knee yet again, and was out for the season. He showed enough in less than a half of football to be persevered with and he returned to full fitness in 1995, playing his first senior game exactly one year later in Round 7. He played all but one of the remaining games that year, including the victorious Grand Final, mainly as a half forward. He kicked 21 goals from 18 games that year.
Glenn Hawker, was recruited from Kaniva, he was one of Essendon’s prime movers throughout the Bombers’ string of finals appearances from 1981 to 1986. A hard-running ball magnet with excellent disposal skills, his fine career at Windy Hill brought him two Premiership medals, three Victorian state team appearances, and Essendon’s Best and Fairest award in 1986. In 1988, after 200 games and 172 goals for the Bombers, Hawker was traded to Carlton for our National Draft selection numbers 12 and 26. Essendon used these picks to draft Brad Fox (who subsequently played 12 senior games) and David Regan (who wasn’t selected at senior level). Hawker spent his final three seasons of elite level football at Carlton, playing 27 games and scoring 26 goals at a time when the Blues languished on the lower rungs of the competition ladder. These numbers alone show that Carlton had the better of this particular deal, but there can also be little doubt that Hawker’s professional attitude set a fine example for future stars like Brett Ratten, Fraser Brown, Michael Sexton and Ang Christou – all of whom were recruited to the Blues during Hawker’s time at Princes Park.
Ross "Farmer" Ditchburn was a tall, long-kicking forward from country Western Australia who topped Carlton’s goal-kicking list in 1982, played in a Grand Final, was knocked unconscious – and still picked up a Premiership medal. He spent just two seasons with the Blues, yet left his mark in 28 games that produced 91 goals.
In 1981, Ditchburn was the 24 year-old captain-coach of his hometown football club at Kukerin, in WA’s wheat belt south of Perth. His family were pillars of the local community and ran a large property outside the town. He had played WAFL football at Claremont, but by then Ross was a star of the strong local league; a powerful key forward with vice-like hands and a right foot that could, the locals said; “boot a bag of spuds over a wheat silo”.
One day, the Ditchburns had visitors – all the way from the other side of the country. Carlton coach David Parkin and Recruiting Manager Shane O’Sullivan had come to Kukerin with an offer that the big bloke found tough to resist, and that his parents encouraged him to accept. After tea and scones in the Ditchburn’s kitchen, Parkin and O’Sullivan left with the promise that Ross would be at Princes Park the following year...
Steve Da Rui
Steven Da Rui came to Carlton from East Perth in 1987 with good mate Richard Dennis. But it wasn't until 1988 from where he had established a reputation as a reliable, hard, and honest performer. Originally a ruck-rover, he settled on a half-back flank for the Blues and proved a handy acquisition in his 55 games over four seasons. He was a great exponent of the legal 'hip and shoulder' - as evidenced when he once knocked out Melbourne's Greg Healy with a perfectly-delivered shirtfront in a match at Princes Park. In the same season he also cleaned up opposition captains in Hawthorn's Michael Tuck and Essendon's Terry Daniher - a nice little trifecta.
A solid unit at 183 cm and 85 kg, Da Rui was no racehorse, but he ran all day. He was also a strong mark, and a fierce tackler who revelled in the physical challenges. He played off the bench throughout Carlton's 1988 finals campaign, and represented WA against Victoria in 1990.
During the recent road trip by the Spirit of Carlton to Kukerin in West Australia three past Blue champions gave their own personal accounts of their own issues with men's health. Ross Ditchburn, Ken Hunter and Geoff Southby each provide honest, heartfelt and humorous account of issues surrounding depression and prostate cancer. Recommended viewing for anyone currently effected by these issues.
When you think of the Carlton Football Club, the small township of Kukerin, 300 kms southeast of Perth in the vast West Australian wheat belt does not come to mind. Yet, it is from this remote area of Australia that Ross Ditchburn was born and bred, a classic country superboot who travelled across the country to become a premiership player for the Blues in 1982.
When the Spirit of Carlton learnt about Ross' recent battle with prostate cancer and Ross' determination to spread the message of mens health awareness throughout rural communities the idea of a mens health weekend supported by the Spirit of Carlton was born. Keep returning over coming days for further details from this marathon footy trip across the country to support a very good cause.
In the meantime enjoy a pictorial summary of the trip from Spirit of Carlton TV on youtube.